City of Hope treated me as a person. I wasn’t just a patient, a chart. I mattered.” Kommah, breast cancer survivor
If you have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer, or you've been told you may be at high risk of developing it, talk to the specialists at City of Hope. Our integrated team of professionals will guide you and your loved ones through each step of the journey, from diagnosis to treatment to recovery and survivorship.
We will answer your questions, calm your concerns and design a personalized treatment plan to give you the best possible outcome.
Request a Consultation
If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, are at a high risk for developing breast cancer or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, you may request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-4673 (HOPE). Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.
City of Hope has been named a best hospital for cancer by U.S. News & World Report for over a decade and a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center, the highest designation that recognizes our commitment to cancer treatment, research and education.
As a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, our doctors also help develop and improve evidence-based breast cancer treatment guidelines for patients throughout the country.
August 9, 2016
Breast cancer is a disease in which breast tissue cells start growing abnormally and uncontrollably.
Factors that can elevate risk breast cancer risk include:
Research has also shown that a healthy lifestyle and maintenance of a normal weight, including a well-balanced diet and regular exercise, may reduce breast cancer risk.
Breast cancer risk may also be reduced by prophylactic methods, such as taking estrogen blockers, and undergoing a mastectomy and/or oophorectomy (surgical removal of the breasts and ovaries, respectively.) These methods are typically for women with a greatly elevated risk of developing breast cancer, such as BRCA mutation carriers.
The most common symptoms of breast cancer include:
Although these symptoms can be caused by other conditions, you should check with a doctor – preferably a breast health specialist – so they can make a definitive diagnosis.
Sources: National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society
Precise breast cancer tests are crucial for treatment planning, and City of Hope is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies and specialized staff to ensure an accurate, comprehensive diagnosis of breast cancer.
Highlights of our screening and diagnosis services include:
Many of these tests are conveniently offered at our Women’s Center.
Once you notice changes in your breast, or as part of a routine breast screening, your doctor may use the following tests to look for breast cancer:
If cancer is found, additional tests are performed to determine the type and stage of disease. These diagnostic tests include:
Based on the results of these tests, the breast cancer is then staged according to its size, number of lymph nodes affected and whether it has spread to nearby or distant organs.
The current American Cancer Society screening recommendations for women with average breast cancer risk are:
For women with high breast cancer risk, the American Cancer Society recommends:
City of Hope provides cutting edge, compassionate treatment with a team approach where the patient and her family are at the center of the team.” Joanne Mortimer, M.D., Director, Women’s Cancers Program
Your breast cancer is every bit as unique as you are, and that is why breast cancer treatment at City of Hope is focused around you and your loved ones.
This means our physicians will personally consult with you about your disease, treatment options and desired outcomes. Afterward, our multidisciplinary team of specialists will work together to discuss, design and deliver an individual treatment plan to best meet those goals.
The innovative treatments we use to treat breast cancer include:
Not only do I help women take care of their breast cancer, but I also try to make it look like no one has been there.” Laura Kruper, M.D., M.S., Chief, Breast Surgery Service
Surgery is a common treatment option for most breast cancer patients. Depending on the tumor’s size, location and spread, the procedure performed may be a lumpectomy (removal of the tumor, surrounding breast tissue and possibly nearby lymph nodes) or a mastectomy (removal of one or both breasts, along with nearby lymph nodes). Mastectomies may also be performed as a risk reduction procedure for women with a high risk of developing breast cancer.
City of Hope offers the latest advances in surgical approaches to treating breast cancer. Our leading-edge technology and our surgeons’ expertise means you can achieve outstanding outcomes that are not possible elsewhere. This includes breast cancer surgeries with fewer and smaller incisions, reducing discomfort and recovery time. Our minimally-invasive approach also allows patients to be treated sooner with post-surgery treatments, such as follow-up radiation and drug therapy.
Our team is also experienced in breast-conserving surgery, which can remove early stage tumors while achieving excellent cosmetic outcomes. This procedure can be done with larger tumors as well, by shrinking the tumor with chemotherapy before the surgery.
For more extensive procedures, our breast surgeons will work in conjunction with our plastic surgery team. This includes combining skin- and nipple-sparing mastectomies with breast reconstruction in one operation, preserving or restoring breast appearance without compromising health outcomes.
Our plastic surgery team can also offer reconstruction options – with either breast implants or your own tissue – to a wide range of breast cancer patients. These include:
For patients who have a high risk of developing breast cancer, these appearance-preserving or appearance-restoring techniques may also be used after risk reduction surgeries.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other forms of radiation to kill cancer cells. It may be delivered externally using focused beams of energy, or internally, placing an energy emitting substance in or near the tumor site at the time of surgery.
City of Hope is a leader in image-driven radiation planning, using computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scans to determine tumor size and location. This ensures radiation is accurately delivered to the tumor site, while minimizing exposure to nearby normal tissues.
In addition to standard radiation therapy, which takes place daily over six or seven weeks, patients may also be eligible for hypofractionated radiotherapy – which delivers a higher dose of radiation in a shorter amount of time (four weeks), allowing patients to make fewer visits for treatment and recover faster.
Select breast cancer patients may also be eligible for intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), which delivers high dose radiation treatment at the time of their breast cancer surgery. This procedure allows patients to skip the usual six-week cycle of radiation following lumpectomy, and may reduce radiation exposure to normal breast tissue.
Drug therapy may be given to patients to fight breast cancer cells throughout the body by killing the cancer cells or stopping their growth and spread. These drugs include:
Drugs may also be prescribed to treat conditions related to breast cancer, such as minimizing bone loss and fracture risk if the cancer has spread to the bones.
The drug or drug combination used depends on the type and stage of breast cancer, previous treatments used, the patient’s health and overall treatment goals. This personalized medicine approach may be further enhanced by molecular or genetic testing of your cancer, which can help identify treatments that are more effective and with fewer side effects.
City of Hope has a wide portfolio of cancer-fighting drugs available in its on-site pharmacy, allowing our medical oncologists to plan and prescribe a drug regimen that can best fight breast cancer while minimizing side effects.
In addition to standard drug treatments, patients may also be eligible for new, promising drugs through our clinical trials program.
Approximately two-thirds of breast cancers are reliant on the hormones, such as estrogen and/or progesterone to fuel their growth and spread, so drugs that decrease endocrine production can help slow or halt the disease. It is most often used as an adjuvant therapy (given after surgery) to reduce likelihood of cancer recurrence, but may be used in other settings as well.
In addition to standard endocrine therapy treatments, City of Hope patients have access to promising endocrine therapies through our clinical trials program. These innovative therapies may be better at treating endocrine-sensitive breast cancer and/or reduce side effects associated with endocrine therapy.
City of Hope’s renowned physicians and researchers utilize the latest in technology and innovation to treat breast cancer, coupled with our enduring belief in providing unparalleled compassionate care.
Breast Cancer Research
At City of Hope, breast cancer clinicians and researchers collaborate extensively to develop and evaluate new therapies for better survival and quality-of-life outcomes. Our patients have access to a wide variety of clinical trials including new chemotherapy and targeted therapies, hormone therapies, novel surgical techniques, innovative radiation approaches and new prevention strategies.
These trials give current patients access to promising, leading-edge therapies and improve overall care for future patients worldwide. Visit our clinical trials page to learn more about current studies and their eligibility criteria.
Some of our current research projects include:
City of Hope saved me. They saved my baby. They saved my family portrait.” Stephanie, breast cancer survivor
When you come to City of Hope, you automatically gain access to an unparalleled array of support services to help you and your loved ones take each step during and after your breast cancer treatment.
We can help with all of the following concerns, and more:
Visit our Living with Cancer or Supportive Care Medicine sites for more information. For more information about the supportive care programs we offer, please contact the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center at 626-218-2273 (CARE) or the Women’s Center at 800-934-5555.
Already a leader in supportive care of cancer patients, City of Hope has a new program called “Return to Wellness,” designed to tackle that big “What now?” question one topic at a time.
City of Hope experts lead workshops in nutrition, health monitoring, long-term side effect management, body image, sexuality and intimacy, lymphedema prevention, meditation, spirituality, and more. Survivors also participate in weekly strength training, restorative yoga and support group sessions.
“Return to Wellness” is a collaboration with the Cancer Support Community of Pasadena. The program is open to women who have completed treatment for breast cancer. Survivors need not be City of Hope patients to participate.
Please call 626-218-CARE (2273) for more information.
Amelia Tena has made it her mission to become an advocate and mentor for people living with cancer.
Don sports his pink City of Hope breast cancer awareness pin wherever he goes – spreading the message of early detection as he enlists new recruits in his personal war on cancer.
“You deserve a doctor you feel confident in and who you believe is invested in your care. That’s why I chose Dr. Somlo and City of Hope.”
For breast cancer survivor Kommah McDowell, a second opinion at City of Hope made all the difference for her and her family…
“City of Hope saved me. They saved my baby. They saved my family portrait.”
You have the power to build a world without women’s cancers.
We all know someone whose life has been affected by breast and/or gynecologic cancers. These are the women we love: our grandmothers, mothers, daughters, wives, sisters and our best friends. Think about the women in your life. Join Walk for Hope and be part of a movement to help them live longer, healthier lives.
City of Hope is leading the fight against cancers unique to women through research, treatment and education. Your commitment to Walk for Hope will support City of Hope’s efforts to push the boundaries of science to advance research and treatments on behalf of women everywhere.